At church this morning, the pastor was preaching about the Lord’s prayer. He noted that it starts with “Our Father.” The pastor talked about how our image of God will influence how we interact with God. If we see God as a strict Santa Claus sort of being, who grades us by our performance, then we won’t particularly like God’s knowledge of all of our ways. But if we see God as a loving Father, then we will welcome God’s omniscience, seeing it as caring.
I agree with the pastor on this, at least when it comes to my own spirituality. The thing is, when I read the Bible, I wonder at times if I am truly reading about a loving Father. I’m reading I Chronicles right now, and I recently went through the Chronicler’s telling of the story of how God struck Uzzah dead for reaching out his hand to balance the ark. The Chronicler actually seems to be more explicit than II Samuel about why God did this: because God wanted for the Levites to carry the ark, and the Levites were to be sanctified before they could do so. On some level, I can respect the Chronicler’s high regard for the holiness, transcendence, and majesty of God. When I read the Chronicler or the priestly writer (P), I get the impression that God is above and beyond me, or any one of us. But is this God a loving Father? I have difficulty characterizing him as such. The God of the Chronicler does do good things for people, such as David and Israel. But this God also seems to exclude others: God may bless David such that David wins battles and gets land, but where is God’s love for those who are dispossessed?